Six healthcare provider associations, including the American Hospital Association and America’s Essential Hospitals, and three hospitals have filed a federal lawsuit against HHS seeking increased enforcement of the 340B drug pricing program.
The suit accuses HHS of not requiring drug companies to provide discounted drugs in the program as mandated by 340B regulations, according to a news release from the group, which also includes 340B Health, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Children’s Hospital Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Also participating in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, are Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, S.D., Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, Va., and St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco.
The suit alleges that drugmakers are refusing to provide discounts to drugs provided by community-based pharmacies, according to the release.
The release said they are seeking an order that HHS require the drug companies to provide 340B discounts on drugs dispensed at community-based pharmacies and issue refunds to hospitals that were refused discounts. The suit also asks for an order requiring HHS to assess penalties against drug companies involved.
“Drug industry players have moved without restraint to undermine the 340B drug pricing program, putting access to vital medications at risk for millions of Americans and destabilizing hospitals—including those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Bruce Siegel president and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals, in the release.
Representatives of HHS and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Just this week, HHS created a board to resolve payment disagreements called the 340B Administrative Dispute Resolution Board. The dispute resolution process proposed in 2016 allows covered entities to force drugmakers into a process that would result in final, binding decisions by the agency. The policy is a win for safety-net providers, like those represented by America’s Essential. But it’s unlikely to put to bed the heated conflict between providers and drugmakers over providers’ use of contract pharmacies.
The rule goes into effect next month, just days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. It will be up to his administration to implement the rule.